By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Missouri Baptist left no doubt about why it wanted Purdy High School senior Mattie White for its basketball team.
“They recruited me for my rebounding,” White said on Monday. “They want me to play forward and attack the boards.”
The 5-foot-9 White recently signed with the St. Louis NAIA school. The Spartans are members of the American Midwest Conference.
Missouri Baptist coach Iris Dixon came to Purdy for the signing ceremony. Dixon, completing her second season as head coach, finished her 13th campaign as a staff member.
White averaged more than 10 points and almost nine rebounds as the Class 2 Eagles, coached by Eli Ernst and Jennifer Schallert, finished 15-14 overall and 4-1 in the Ozark 7 Conference.
Ernst, who’s in his first year at Purdy, said White missed the last six games after turning an ankle in practice.
“She sustained ligament damage to both sides of her ankle,” Ernst said. “She had to give a lot of attention to the foot. She’s been walking recently without a brace.”
Pierce City wound up beating Purdy on its floor in the District 2-12 championship game.
“Mattie has a big, big heart,” Ernst said. “She wants to win as bad as anyone. She’s emotional. She plays hard and expects her teammates to play hard.
“Mattie is a versatile, strong player,” Ernst said. “I believe she will be able to play on the perimeter (at Missouri Baptist).”
White said she was seen by Missouri Baptist playing at The Courts in Springfield. She also honed her skills by playing a summer with the Republic-based Varsity coached by Robert Rayl.
“I liked the school, and I liked the coaches,” White said of her visit to Missouri Baptist. “Honestly, it felt like home. They really made me feel welcome at the school.”
Mattie, the daughter of Lea and T.J. White, plans to major in biology with hopes of becoming an orthodontist.
Lea White, formerly Pavone, played basketball at Purdy in the mid-1980s. Dad, however, competed in rodeo for several years. Mattie also was in rodeo before switching her allegiance to basketball.